The wine terms and definitions below will help you to describe and understand wine. These terms are used by wine critics, writers and wine makers–refer to my tasting notes as example.
Grape acid giving a crisp ’edgy’ quality.
Noticeable, pronounced ‘lifted’ aromas.
The mouth puckering/gripping effect (red wines) caused by tannins.
The very back of the mouth.
See funky but NOT good – Faulty, really bad.
When all the elements of the wine come together harmoniously with no single dominant stand out detracting from the overall sensation.
Young hard tannins.
The perceived ‘weight’ of the wine on the palate.
A wine’s aroma.
Interaction between wine and the air (oxygen) after the wine is opened/decanted or poured; generally leading to increased aromatics. Beneficial for older wines which may have become reductive.
Clarity of the wine.
Carbonic maceration is a reductive ‘in berry’ form of fermentation giving maraschino cherry characters and soft tannins.
Woody aroma primary in cabernet fruit and secondary from oak (confusing? Yes!)
An underground room where those lucky enough to have one stash their wine.
A mouth full of tannin.
Big (clumsy) tannins.
A wine (usually young) with little initial aroma which (may) open with aeration.
A dense wine (generally red) packed full of flavours, colour and texture.
See Cork Taint.
Caused by mouldy or chlorine effected cork, tasting of wet newspaper or hessian (not good) supressing the wine flavour and aroma. If encountered dip some cling wrap into the wine which will reduce/remove the taint molecules (TCA/TBA).
Pouring a bottled wine into a carafe or jug prior to serving in order to aerate the wine.
The expression used to describe the way Cabernet sauvignon can often have a ‘hole’ in the middle of the palate.
Very low to no residual sugar post fermentation.
Tertiary character in older wines with pleasant sense of decay; think cheese, mushrooms, wet leaves, old logs etc.
Very high levels of tannins subduing flavour perception.
The conversion of juice sugar to ethanol by yeast in winemaking.
Aftertaste the better the wine the longer the aftertaste or finish.
Tannic or acidic wine.
Generally low in acid or with a high pH (or both).
Having the sweet aroma of flowers.
The taste/texture sensation on the tip of the tongue and around the lips.
Generally meaning an odd earthy aroma or flavour which is not altogether unpleasant . . . but can be.
Tough, tannic, thin generally not an easy drink.
Unripe flavours (generally) not to be confused with ‘herbal’ sometimes referred to as ‘green’.
Aromatics of dried herbs.
A wine lacking body and palate weight. Not to be confused with the Cabernet doughnut.
Over-ripe berry/plum characters.
Dead yeast sediment in wine as it matures; crucial for sparkling wine production.
Wine! No such thing exists.
The strings of wine that remain on the inside of a glass after swirling. The higher the alcohol content the more pronounced will be the legs.
Having a pronounced aroma.
Focused sequential flavour and texture perception.
Fruit contact/soaking in the juice/must, can be before during and after fermentation depending on the effect the winemaker is after. With more contact the greater will be the extraction of colour and tannins from the berry.
Malolactic fermentation carried out by bacteria which can add complexing secondary characters to a wine; butterscotch, butter, cashew nut.
The taste/perception of a wine while still in the mouth.
Wines not made by oenologists-winemakers.
Aroma of the wine.
The type of wood barrels are made from, the flavour of which is taken up by the wine.
Wood/barrel flavours; vanilla, coffee, coconut, cedar, toast, woody, cloves.
The science of winemaking; pronounced: own-ology.
Deterioration of the flavours and colour of wine due to prolonged contact with air.
Unpleasant tannins (in white wines) from skin contact or from pressings juice.
Tannins/Colour; in red wines; these ARE desirable.
A measure of acidity; the lower the pH the higher the acidity.
Aromas and flavours from the fruit; citrus, berry, pepper, capsicum, plum, gooseberry (to name but a few).
Over-ripe character from dried berries.
Unpleasant aromas and flavours; rubber, rotten onion/eggs, burnt match, farty, produced by unhappy yeast during fermentation.
Aromas and flavours derived from fermentation and winemaking; coffee, asparagus, pineapple, esters, butter, oak.
Solids at the bottom of an old bottle of red wine. Predominantly tannins.
Very fine tannin perception.
Aromas and flavours reminiscent of culinary spices; cloves, nutmeg, pepper etc.
Hard acidity not always a bad thing.
Harsh green ‘unripe’ tannins. Can be from whole bunch inclusion in the ferment.
The way the wine sits in and fills your mouth.
A smooth non-aggressive wine.
Groups of phenolic molecules from the skin, seeds and stems of the grapes and from the oak wood of the barrels, bound together to give an astringent mouth feel.
2,4,6-tribromoanisole, the secondary cork taint molecule; no less unpleasant.
The primary molecule responsible for the cork taint defect 2,4,6-trichloroanisole.
Aromas and flavours that develop as the wine ages; honey, toffee, cigar box, tobacco.
The flavours from the oak wood after it is heat bent during production; vanilla, chocolate, coffee, toffee.
Acetic acid an unavoidable secondary metabolite of yeast produced usually in low concentrations. Also an avoidable fault produced by bacteria along with ethyl acetate which when in elevated concentrations imparts a nostril burning sharpness to the aroma which can smell either of vinegar and or nail polish remover.
Either the fruit processing period or the particular year of the production.
High acid wines that really tingle on the tongue.